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Benefits 101: Understanding The Value Of Your Benefits

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We all receive annual W-2 forms that tell us exactly how much we earned in salary in the prior year. However, no such report exists to help us understand the total value of the benefits provided by Lehigh. These benefits make up an important part of our annual compensation.

So, just how much are your benefits worth? You can get a fairly complete picture by pulling together information from a few sources:

  • A recent paystub
  • Your TIAA-CREF annual report
  • Tuition statements or the Student Account Suite on the Bursar’s website

What To Look For On Your Pay Stub

Your pay stub provides the information you need to calculate the value of Lehigh’s contributions to the following:

  • Medical insurance
  • Long term disability insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Medicare
  • Social Security
  • Pension

To determine a simple annual value of these benefits, multiply the figures in the column labeled Employer Cost This Check by the number of pay periods in a year.



More About Retirement Benefits


For a deeper look at the value of your pension, turn to your TIAA-CREF annual report. This report not only includes the contributions made by Lehigh, but also the earnings on those contributions. You can also create an online account at TIAA-CREF's website where you can monitor and control your pension investments.

Many people don’t realize that Social Security and Medicare involve a shared contribution from both employees and employers. The ultimate value of these benefits will depend on a number of factors, including how long you work and your level of income.

To learn more about how to project your Social Security income, visit the Social Security Administration’s website, including its Retirement Estimator.




Tuition Benefits

If you or one of your dependents is taking advantage of Lehigh’s tuition benefit program, the value of the benefit will vary depending on whether it is graduate or undergraduate and full or part time. It will also vary if you are making use of the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC) tuition benefit, since tuition at each of the member institutions is different. 

  • The maximum annual value of the tuition cash grant for children of faculty and exempt employees who began work at Lehigh on or after September 1, 1986, is $5,000.
  • You or any family member attending Lehigh should be receiving a monthly statement indicating the value of your tuition remission. This information can also be accessed through the Student Account Suite on the Bursar’s website.
  • If you or your dependent is using the LVAIC benefit, you will receive an accounting of your tuition charges from the college or university you are attending.

Final Thoughts

Although Lehigh does not contribute to your Voluntary 403 (b) Supplemental Retirement Plan and Flexible Spending Accounts, you do achieve tax savings as a result of having these plans available via payroll deduction.

While the employer portion of your medical benefits is easy to calculate, the amount that you use these benefits also impacts the true value. If, for instance, you or a family member requires surgery or hospitalization for illness, the actual value of your benefits in that year will be higher than an average medical plan year. If you wish to get the complete picture, you can review your Explanation of Benefits from the prior year to calculate the full amount paid for medical services on your behalf by Lehigh.

If you have any questions about calculating the value of your benefits, you can always send them via email to inben@lehigh.edu.

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Spotlight is published monthly by Human Resources. Please address any comments to Hillary Kwiatek, Spotlight Editor, Human Resources, 428 Brodhead Avenue, send email to hik210@lehigh.edu, or call extension 85165.

Current and past issues of Spotlight can be viewed and searched at: Past Issues.